Five-term Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz will announce Thursday that he will not finish his term, according to a Politico report.
Politico cites multiple sources close to Rep. Chaffetz as well as the congressman’s own statements to the magazine that he was seeking employment “outside Congress.” He will reportedly step down June 30.
The expected announcement will come after Chaffetz, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, stated he will subpoena the purported “Comey Memos” on which the New York Times based its report that President Donald Trump had suggested ex-FBI Director James Comey “let it go” with regard to ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Chaffetz has been a central figure in the examination of Flynn’s alleged conduct, but it is unclear what significance, if any, that bears on Chaffetz’s resignation.
Chaffetz was elected to great populist conservative fanfare in 2008, running an insurgent primary campaign against then-President George W. Bush-endorsed Republican incumbent Chris Cannon, who once told a crowd, “We love immigrants in Utah. And we don’t oftentimes make the distinction between legal and illegal.”
Cannon’s ties to radical Latino advocacy group the National Council of La Raza (“the race”), and an award from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, made immigration the wedge issue of the campaign, with a nascent populist movement seeing Chaffetz’s candidacy as a turning point in the battle against amnesty. His victory was a shot in the arm to pro-American immigration advocates nationwide.
Despite his electoral pedigree, Chaffetz’s record on immigration in Congress has been mixed. Early on in his time in Congress, he co-sponsored bills to tighten “family reunification” visa-issuance and reexamine birthright citizenship. By 2013, however, Chaffetz had emerged as a voice in the GOP House caucus open to amnesty as the “Gang of Eight” worked to pass it in the Senate. “There should be a pathway to citizenship, not a special pathway, and not no pathway,” he told reporters then.
More recently, Chaffetz came under attack from a different political sector than the populist coalition that vaulted him to national prominence. Organized leftist protestors swamped his February town hall en masse meeting with shouts of “do your job” and “explain yourself” over his refusal to denounce President Trump.
It is unclear if there is an immediate cause for Chaffetz’s expected announcement.